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KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 -- The Harimau Malaya squad will need between 10 and 12 days of solid preparation in May if they are to get anything from their three remaining matches in the 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup qualifiers in June, said head coach Tan Cheng Hoe.
He said this was necessary as their three opponents, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who they will face on June 3, Vietnam (June 11) and Thailand (June 15) had already undergone preparations much earlier, including holding several friendlies since last year.
“It would be best if we can have 10 to 12 days of preparations as we will also have to arrange for warm-up matches. It will be different this time as we will be playing all three matches in the UAE.
“We need to be there or a country where the climate is similar to the UAE’s. We will also need time to adapt to the weather conditions there,” he told Bernama today.
June is considered the hottest month in the UAE, especially in its capital Abu Dhabi, where the average temperature can reach as high as 40 degrees Celcius in the morning and 25 degrees Celcius at night.
The experienced coach, however, does not see it as a hindrance, provided his players have ideal preparation time.
What bothers Cheng Hoe, though, is the ongoing Malaysia League (M-League) fixtures, which are scheduled to be completed at the end of May, thus preventing him from calling up his players much earlier.
However, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) have presented a proposal to the Malaysian Football League (MFL) to postpone M-League matches scheduled for after Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which is expected to be celebrated on May 13 and 14.
“It will be really good if it (FAM's proposal) is accepted because everyone knows that it had been more than a year since the national squad was called up for centralised training in Johor Bahru (on March 22-28), which was also a very short stint, but I am happy with how it was implemented,” said Cheng Hoe.
Malaysia have collected nine points from five matches in Group G to be two points behind leaders Vietnam, while Thailand are third with eight points, followed by the UAE (seven points from four matches).
Malaysia, who last qualified for the Asian Cup in 1980 in Kuwait, have been set a mission under FAM’s F:30 Roadmap to do so again on merit and they seem to be on the right track, having defeated Thailand and Indonesia in their earlier group matches.